Brand Protection Is An App-solute Must

04/22/2011

The ubiquity of mobile and Internet applications, or apps, is astounding. Because the mobile apps market will continue to have an increasingly significant impact on the global marketplace, intellectual property practitioners should familiarize themselves with trademark and copyright issues that apps raise and methods of addressing those issues. 

What's 'App-ening

One can download apps for social networking, games, navigation, translation, weather, travel itineraries, music and video streaming, photography tools and for virtually any other use or category one can imagine. The mobile apps market is a serious business, though — indeed, it is a multibillion dollar business projected to generate $25 billion by 2015. A recently released free app called Color, which facilitates location-based photo-sharing, raised a whopping $41 million in venture capital before its release.

Apple’s App Store is expected to contribute nearly a quarter of projected revenues in the next few years, but also vying for a piece of the apps pie are competitive marketplaces (also called platforms), including Google’s Android Market, Amazon.com’s Appstore for Android, App World for BlackBerry, Windows Phone MarketPlace, Palm’s App Catalog, Nokia’s Ovi Store and the Samsung Application Store. Although mobile apps are geared for use on mobile devices, apps are not limited to use on such devices. Google’s relatively new Internet browser, called Google Chrome, is a social-oriented browser that features apps.

Further illustrative of the proliferation of the business, companies have begun litigating over the branding rights to their platforms. Apple has aggressively attempted to stop others from using the phrase “app store,” which Apple uses to identify its online store and from which it offers apps for its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad devices.

On March 18, 2011, Apple sued Amazon.com in California federal court over use of the name "Appstore for Android,” and days later Apple sent a cease-and-desist letter to MiKandi, the self-proclaimed “world’s first app store for adults.” Apple has also pressured Microsoft against using the term, and Microsoft fired back by opposing Apple’s U.S. trademark application for APP STORE on the ground that the term is generic.

This article is excerpted from Law360.com. Reprinted by permission. Read the full article.

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